School days are meant to be the happiest days of your life….unless you’re bullied of course. Who hasn’t walked home from school, taken their coat off only to find the back covered in gob? Oh, just our Editor then (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed). To the Stars follows Iris (Kara Hayward), an insular, bespectacled teenager living with her parents in small town 1960’s America. Her flirty heavy drinking mother wants Iris to open up, date boys and go to the Prom rather than burying her nose in her school books as an escape from the other girls in her school, led by Clarissa (Madisen Beatty), who treat Iris as a social outcast.
All this changes with the arrival from the city of Maggie (Liana Liberato) very much the opposite of Iris. Confidant, able to bat away Clarissa’s bitchy digs and unafraid to throw rocks at the boys when they try to bully Iris as she walks to school , the two form an unlikely friendship with Maggie drawing Iris out of her shell as part of her character. But there’s more to both of them. Maggie’s story about her father being a Time magazine photographer hides a tragic tale and Maggie herself hides her own secret which the film slowly builds towards.
Directed by Martha Stephens this is a small independent feature with two great lead performances and an equally good supporting cast that includes Malin Akerman moving away from the sexpot roles she made her own in films The Heartbreak Kid, Misconduct and TV series ‘Trophy Wife’ among others. To the Stars has many of the characters lying not only to others but also to themselves and though there’s little new here in terms of coming of age stories it is an engrossing film with nuanced performances by both Hayward & Liberato.
Here’s the To The Stars trailer…….
TO THE STARS IS RELEASED ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD IN THE UK – 1ST JUNE 2020